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What Jesus-Centered Ministry Is/Isn’t

“Of course we’re Jesus-centered, right? We’re a church youth group. Doesn’t that automatically make it about Jesus?”

That’s an actual response of a small-church youth leader when I asked about his program’s focus. Eventually, he admitted he didn’t know what it meant to “make a beeline to Jesus” in all he did. He also said he was scared to make youth group “too churchy,” fearing kids wouldn’t show up.

Let’s explore what a Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry (JCYM) is and isn’t. Although I’m writing from a smaller-church perspective, these parameters apply to every species of youth ministry.

JESUS-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY IS…

a place where you can point to something the group did, said, played, sang, shared, threw, served, sipped, or TP’d and be able to say, “I see Jesus in this.”

JESUS-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY IS NOT…

a group that does only “fun” or “life” stuff with infrequent or no connection to the Life-giver. Recently, a student leader told me: “Yeah, we don’t do a lesson or study at youth group. We don’t want to drive anyone away with too much Jesus-talk. Hey, we do have a circle prayer. That’s good enough.” Is it? Teenagers today have plenty to do; they don’t need youth group merely as hangout time. Kids are looking to make a difference and to have a difference made for them. They know they need something, and if they walk through your door, they’re hoping to find something—and Someone. So give them Jesus.

JESUS-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY IS…

a ministry that isn’t afraid to laugh at itself or be silly. A Jesus-centered core doesn’t mean Bibles are open 24/7; even Jesus didn’t do ministry that way. He balanced faith, fellowship, and fun.

JESUS-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY IS NOT…

all-day, all night Bible-thumping. It doesn’t dial up the admonition knob to fire-and-brimstone levels. There’s no need to throw out lock-ins, Chubby Bunny games, or Spoons championships. Jesus would play right along.

JESUS-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY IS…

a filter, a lens, a new set of eyes. Running everything through the pass/fail test of “Is Jesus at the center?” actually makes ministry easier. When a decision looms, just look for the answer through Jesus’ eyes.

JESUS-CENTERED YOUTH MINISTRY IS NOT…

a yardstick to measure people’s holiness or spiritual quotient. The purpose of JCYM isn’t to see if kids meet a leader’s expectations of how the perfect Christian teenager should act. Jesus is never in the middle of that.

Keep these criteria in mind as you evaluate your group’s Jesus-centeredness. It’s really quite simple—yet nothing’s more important. ●

For more insight, research, and field-tested ideas on nurturing a ministry environment that is Jesus-magnetic, read Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry by Rick Lawrence. Order a copy today at simplyyouthministry.com.

 

One thought on “What Jesus-Centered Ministry Is/Isn’t

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    a student leader told me: “Yeah, we don’t do a lesson or study at youth group. We don’t want to drive anyone away with too much Jesus-talk. Hey, we do have a circle prayer. That’s good enough.”

    I find it highly unlikely that someone said these exact words to you

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What Jesus-Centered Ministry Is/Isn&#...

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